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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Final Trial Preparation Checklists

Create trial preparation checklists with or without assistance from counsel.

Final Trial Preparation Checklists
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

A.  Preparing With Assistance From Counsel.

  1.   Focus on a trial theme.
  2.   Decide the order of proof (see Useful Steps for Self-Preparation Appendix, Step 1).
  3.   Practice and refine testimony.
  4.   Re-examine tangible evidence.
  5.   Obtain preapproval of demonstrative materials and visual aids.
  6.   Stage the testimony:
    1. Confirm time and place for testimony.
    2. Establish order of presentation.
    3. Determine movements around the hearing room.
    4. Determine what tools, devices or equipment will be needed.
  7.   Review the discovery.
  8.   Anticipate any evidence problems.
  9.   Translate any technical terms.
  10.   Structure and organize the testimony.
  11.   Consider the audience and venue.
  12.   Meet with the other experts and the attorney(s).
  13.   Consider practical matters.
    1. Use appropriate dress and demeanor.
    2. Transport all needed materials, visual aids and equipment to court.
    3. Ensure in advance that all equipment works properly.
  14.   Anticipate the opposition's plans and questions.
  15.   Read and review testimony tips (See General Testifying Tips).
  16.   Remember the expert's role:
    1. Relax. 
    2. Be Open.
    3. Listen carefully and lean forward.
    4. Keep your Eyes on the questioner and the intended audience (judge or jury).

B.  Preparing Without Assistance From Counsel.

  1.   Determine the main task.
  2.   Determine how the materials will be presented.
  3.   Tell the evidence story succinctly.
  4.   Revisit the evidence.
  5.   Practice and refine all demonstrations.
  6.   Review all depositions and interrogatories.
  7.   Is the expert's evidence admissible?
    1. Helpful.
    2. Reliable.
    3. Relevant.
    4. Trustworthy.
    5. Nonrepetitive.
    6. Well-founded.
    7. Accurate.
    8. First-hand data.
  8.   Ensure that all technical terms are translated.
  9.   Ensure that the visual aids are ready.
  10.   Consider the forum and the attorneys.
  11.   Meet with other experts if possible.
  12.   Suggest key questions for the attorney.
  13.   Deal with scheduling problems.
  14.   Dress to look professional.
  15.   Transport materials to the hearing.
  16.   Study potential cross-examination from the opposing side.      
  17.   Find out when and where to be, and be there.

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